Page 1

PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together

November 2017

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door

Communicate, Commit, and Deliver Last Chance for Early-Bird Registration for the 2018 PINP Conference


Partners Progress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together


November 2017 - Volume 12, Number 1



DEBORAH BARKER Creative Services



PARTNERSHIP RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU The Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force provides resources to make labor-management partnerships more effective. SHOOT THE PIPE OR WIPE OUT Focus on four critical factors—Outcome, Value, Belief, and Steps— to successfully lead, manage, and inspire through change.

4 6 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANGE QUOTIENT Strategies that you can use to improve your organizational change quotient.


THE MARKETING EFFECT OF EXPERTISE LOGOS If there were an inexpensive way to make marketing dollars work harder, wouldn’t you try it?

8 RESIDENTIAL REBATES EXPAND WORK OPPORTUNITIES Rebate programs helped give customers a deal while providing contractors and labor much-needed work.

ERIC WESTBROOK Cover Illustrator Partners in Progress is a publication of the Sheet Metal Industry LaborManagement Cooperation Fund. All contents ©2017 by the Sheet Metal Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Fund, P.O. Box 221211, Chantilly, VA 20153-1211. Find Partners in Progress online at or at An archive of all issues is available and printed copies may be ordered for a minimal fee. For comments or questions, email

9 EVOLUTION OF A WARRANTY PROGRAM Among the advantages union sheet metal contractors have is their ability to rely on each other.

10 13

BUILDING A WORKFORCE Northern California has a long-term strategy to prepare tomorrow’s workforce. National LMCF Supports Local Partnership Programs The National LMCF provides funding to assist local programs with strengthening and growing market share.



Put Partneship Resources to Work Register NOW for the Partners in Progress Conference


or more than 15 years, SMACNA and SMART have, through a national joint task force, been actively addressing crucial issues facing both organizations— best practices leading to market expansion. In the very simplest of terms, without vision about where we want to go and a willingness to Communicate, Commit, and Deliver, both SMART and SMACNA will falter and become observers as the industry transitions to meet the needs of today’s customers. That is why the Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force has the philosophy that if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. We are continually working to identify, promote, communicate and support industry best practices while developing tools to support local areas in their efforts. One of our key initiatives is the Partners in Progress Conference, which will be held Feb. 13-14, 2018, at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace. This conference is an exceptional opportunity for labor and management to build on their relationship, share information, and learn new and innovative strategies to work together for a stronger industry. The catch is that Early Registration ends December 15. After that date, it will cost $200 more to attend. REGISTER TODAY—and plan to bring both labor and management representatives from your area—because you cannot afford to miss this opportunity to foster collaboration, discover new ideas, and identify targeted solutions! More information is available at, including materials from previous conferences. Did you realize that the task force makes available many additional tools? For example, the redesigned Partners in Progress web site at has a MembersOnly section that gives you access to FREE access to industry resources, including: • Expertise Branding Logos that equate the SMACNA/SMART team as the source of expertise for energy efficient construction, service, and retrofit work. That is important because to potential customers, expertise is more than experience. It is skilled knowledge. (Read more about using the branding program in the article that starts on page 6.) • Expertise Web Sites with dynamic designs that you can link to from your web site to help explain to customers the importance of using contractors and craftspersons who are certified and follow the proper standards. • Expertise Advertisements that have been professionally designed and are ready for you to add your company or organization logo and use in print or online. • Press Releases that highlight your success stories, best practices, and innovative ideas or projects. They are regularly produced and placed and complement releases from other industry sources. • How-To Best Practices Guides describing what has worked in local areas and providing step-by-step guidance on how to replicate such initiatives in your area. • Photo Library that includes almost 2,000 photos of HVAC, Architectural, and Industrial sheet metal specialty areas that may be used on your web site or in publications or marketing materials. These photos have been reviewed by SMACNA’s safety director to ensure there are no safety violations. Check it all out by visiting and signing up for an account. 




Shoot the Pipe... or wipeout Ideas for leaders in a time when change is a must. By Steven Gaffney



of today’s S&P 500 companies will be replaced by 2027. Of course, companies rise and fall for many reasons—some go bust, some are acquired, and some merge. Regardless, change happens at even the biggest and highest levels of our economy and is happening more and more quickly. It’s likely, in our fast-paced, high-rate-of-change present and future, that those who can lead, manage, and inspire change will beat out the competition. That makes the ability to cope with and lead through change a critical skill set—right now, and into the future. OVBS: Four key factors Change is complex, but after more than 20 years of working with many organizations, I have found that focusing on four critical factors—Outcome, Value, Belief, and Steps, or OVBS—can help leaders successfully lead, manage, and inspire through change. Outcome. It’s difficult to move from point A to point B without knowing the destination. Similarly, it is critical to effectively communicate the outcome of any planned change. Confused minds produce confused results. Focusing on outcome means asking yourself if



en Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Updating it for today, most of us would add another certainty: Change. Change is a force constantly at work. Those who lead organizations must embrace change and convince others to do the same. Thus, those who want their organizations to be thriving two decades (or even two years) from now must lead the way. Changing times demand leaders who can successfully lead through change. The truth is that most people prefer to avoid change—and sometimes that attitude goes all the way to the top. The problem is while it is great to be good at sustaining, building, and even advancing into new markets, without the ability to lead, manage, and inspire through change, lasting success is difficult. What’s worse, the pace of change is always accelerating. It’s seen everywhere, but especially in business. In 1958, corporations listed in the S&P 500 stayed there for an average length of 61 years. A research firm called Innosight indicates that by 1980, the average stay had declined sharply, to 25 years. By 2011, the average tenure had dropped to 18 years. At the present rate of churn, about three-quarters


the people you are leading know and understand the endgame: the objective of the change. Further, you need to know if the direction, vision, and mission are clear. The simplest way to find out the answers is to ask. You might even have employees write down their answers to give you an accurate picture of everyone’s understanding. Value. Members of your organization must also see the value of the change for themselves. In other words: “What’s in it for me?” It’s a reasonable question. Go beyond telling them that the change is good for the company. Start by identifying what motivates them. Remember that people make decisions based on emotion and then justify those decisions with logic. If you can connect emotionally, you can work on winning their hearts and minds with the value of the change. In most cases, this means talking with individuals and groups and then putting some appropriate benefits in place. Ensure that you continue to keep in touch with all of those involved throughout implementation of the change. Do not be afraid to get to the heart of the matter. It may work best to ask them: On a scale of 1 through 10, how valuable is the change to you? What would it take to make it a 10? Answers to that question will give you a lot to work with. Belief. Even people who understand the outcome and the value of the change will not change if they do not believe in the desired outcome or place the same value on it. The three main reasons people don’t really believe in what a leader has set forth are as follows: 1. The leader does not really believe in the value of the change he or she has been charged with

executing. Members of our organization can sense when we don’t have full buy-in. Usually they hear it in our tone. “How” we say something is usually more important than the words we say. Is this the case for you? Go back for more information and get perspective from those who initiated the change. 2. Past changes failed to deliver on the promised outcome and value, causing those affected to become skeptical. Research shows that 70% of changes fail. Is this change effort different? Explain why and how. If you’re not sure how things will be different, take a step back and find out. 3. Leaders have failed to cultivate a meaningful relationship. Indications that a relationship connection is missing are lack of respect and divisions into “us” versus “them”. When these things happen, individuals may hear what we say, but they don’t really listen or buy-in. To counter such thinking, examine issues that are blocking the relationship connection. For example, previous emphasis on revenue and profits over employee needs leaves people skeptical of the benefits they will derive from the change and suspicious of ulterior motives. The bottom line: Belief is the engine of change. It keeps us going during hard times and great uncertainty. Steps. Change is not a one-time event. Rather, it comprises many steps. Are people clear about their next steps? Do they understand the plan? More important than understanding the plan, people must understand that the plan is about progress rather than perfection. Providing clarity about the next steps is a critical factor to leading through change because that is what enables people to make genuine progress. First, help employees let go of lower priorities and old initiatives—so they can focus on what needs continued on page 5




Ways To Improve Your ‘Change Quotie

Your ability to lead through change depends upon OVBS—outcome, value, belief, and steps. Here are six strategies that you can use to improve your organizational change quotient. 1: Build the foundation from what is NOT changing If you communicate what will not be changing, everyone will feel more secure and have a better understanding of what is changing. This helps people focus on the right priorities, builds the relationship connection discussed in the main article, and ultimately helps them perform their jobs as the change is implemented. Importantly, even if the structure or tactics differ from what came before, the overall mission, outcomes, and organizational values rarely will. For example, the way you provide customer service may be changing, but the goal—excellent service—does not. 2: Manage expectations From start to finish, you must manage expectations. Let people know that things will not be perfect and that everyone will learn things along the way, but that ultimately the change will be successful. I have seen many leaders who don’t correctly set expectations.

The result tends to be a lot of employee disappointment. Remember: the more that we are clear and prepare people mentally, the better things will be. 3: Manage people’s input to determine their output It’s a time-tested truth that if you want to change your output, you have to change your input. Thus, if your employees are surrounded by negativity and skepticism, it will affect their perspective on change. That, in turn, will affect their output, which will become a part of other employees’ input. On and on the cycle goes. Some ideas: a. Pay attention to what you say and what you do. As leaders, our attitude and perspective is powerful. We must believe in the change we are trying to implement. b. Take advantage of positive peer pressure. In unfamiliar situations—like a changing environment—people take cues from others. That is what makes positive peer pressure so effective. Make sure the key influential players on your team are on board; ask them to be vocal advocates for change. c. Get rid of change blockers—the ones who say “That will never work” or “We have tried that before”. It can infect others. Give people a chance, but (as a client of mine once said) “If you can’t change the people, change the people.”


4: Fill in the void and be persistent Anytime you find yourself thinking that you “hope” people understand the change, it’s time to spell out the outcome and value of the change all over again. Repeat, repeat, repeat! A changing environment can be frightening for em-




ent’ ployees. In the absence of actual information, people will use their imaginations to make things up. Don’t allow your employees’ imaginations to lead to negativity, rumors, and the undermining of success. Fill the void with actual information, and do it again and again. Explaining why the changes are taking place helps people make better decisions and deal with the inevitable gray areas that appear. Overall, be persistent in your communication. The changes you are working on won’t happen overnight. Even if people understand what you’ve said today, it doesn’t mean they’ll remember it in a week or a month. 5: Maintain open, honest communication The biggest problem is not what people say, it is what they don’t say. We can’t fix problems or implement ideas that we don’t know about. Thus, take a moment to ask yourself “How often do people debate me?” and “How often do people proactively share their ideas?” If the answer to either of these questions is “not often,” then you most likely have a problem with open, honest communication. Open, honest communication is critical for leading through changing times. We can’t adjust the plan to achieve success without everyone bringing their thoughts, ideas, and understanding to the table. This means steering clear of defensiveness and seeking out feedback. Take time to ask them: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how are we doing with this change? What would it take to make it a 10? What would it take to make it a 15?” 6: Establish quick wins and celebrate! This strategy helps build confidence among those who might be initially skeptical about the change because building positive momentum leads to more success. Remember, we tend to get more of whatever we focus on. Thus, look for who is achieving the change you desire, draw attention to those individuals, and ask what they are doing that can be applied elsewhere. A client I coached was having trouble with people not believing that certain goals could be achieved. To combat that, he went out and found areas where people were achieving the goals. He highlighted those areas and broke down the lessons learned so that other areas could apply them. Now most areas are achieving the goals. 

continued from page 3 to be done. One idea is to ask employees to make a list of all the priorities and initiatives from the past. Help them identify those items that they must consciously let go (or at least put on the back burner). Next, break the change down into very small steps. ‘One big reason One big reason people can people can be be resistant to change is they resistant to change simply are not sure what to do. Using small, clear steps is they simply are not to move forward combats sure what to do’ confusion. When people know exactly what they’re accountable for and what step to take next, they are less resistant to change. Not only does the change feel less insurmountable and the momentum irresistable, but also the value of the change feels more obvious. Finally, remember that since change is a process, it takes time. It is easy to forget the message over time. Consistent, clear, and repeated communication about the next steps helps everyone to stay on track. The change equation After working with numerous organizations and observing how incredibly complex organizational change can be, I have come up with a simple equation for an organizational change quotient that can guide you as you lead through change. Outcome x Value x Belief x Steps = Action Results To use this equation, rate each OVBS item from zero to 10. If any of the factors—Outcome, Value, Belief, or Steps— are rated as zero, then you’ll get zero action and zero results. If one factor receives a stronger rating than another, there will be some action in the desired direction, but not as much as if all of the factors are high. Although all these numbers are arbitrary, this concept gives you something you can use as a benchmark later within your organization. Share it with your leadership team; ask them what can be done to improve the score. Then revisit it periodically and make a tune-up.  Steven Gaffney ( is a leading expert on leadership and change management. November 2017 PARTNERS IN PROGRESS



WHAT IF THERE WERE A SIMPLE, inexpensive way for SMACNA contractors and chapters, SMART locals, labor-management cooperation committees, and joint training centers to make marketing dollars work harder? Would you try it? SMART’s and SMACNA’s joint Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force created the Expertise branding program to help identify affiliated organizations as the source of expertise for HVAC, architectural, industrial, and green construction, service, and retrofit work. The program provides FREE tools to those organizations for use in marketing efforts. Those tools include professionally designed logos and ads ready for placement. “We ran some focus groups, and it hit us all in the face that when most people look at sheet metal workers and sheet metal contractors, they’re not even sure what we do,” says Mark Watson, president of Climate Engineers, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “There’s not something on their radar that says, ‘I need to have those people working on my building.’” Watson believes that positioning is one of the keys to getting SMACNA contractors with access to SMART’s highly trained workforce on that radar.“When people see our name, I want them to know what we do.” Climate Engineers uses the Expertise logos on letterhead and emails and features them on the homepage of the company’s web site and the multipage inserts that go into local papers upon completion of big projects. 6


The signatory sheet metal industry in California has also invested in the Expertise branding program. “It provides a consistent, succinct tagline that draws viewers into ads,” says Jim Conway, chapter manager for Central Valley SMACNA. In Conway’s experience, it’s difficult to explain to most people what the sheet metal industry does. “The term expertise gives us a chance to tell a broader story.” That story is exactly what Northern San Joaquin labor-management cooperation trust communicates with the HVAC Expertise Central Valley website. It features the HVAC Expertise logo and emphasizes the professionalism, training, and skills that the listed contractors bring to every job. Blue Diamond Sheet Metal Inc., based in Medford, N.Y., makes creative use of the HVAC Expertise logo by placing it on “Tinny,” the company’s sheet metal mascot that rides atop each of its five delivery trucks traveling across New York and Long Island. The company also uses the logo on letterhead. Another contractor that uses the Expertise branding program is Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., based in Stockton, Calif. Industrial and Architectural Metal Expertise logos and links to and appear on the company’s home page, along with a link to “We send radius mail postcards and postcards that highlight and promote seasonal maintenance, as well as some informational, educational newsletters about things like carbon monoxide poisoning, the importance of air filtration, and indoor air quality. Everything includes an Expertise logo,” says company president Matthew Smith. “The Expertise logos are a tool we can use to establish ourselves as HVAC experts,” Smith says. “We hope that by putting that tagline out there,


The Marketing Effect of Expertise Logos

Why use Expertise logos? When you tell someone you work in the sheet metal industry, is the response a blank stare? If so, you’re probably not surprised that SMACNA and SMART learned from focus groups that people don’t know what sheet metal workers do. They know what HVAC is, though, and “expertise” is a term that resonates.

tomers gain some peace of mind that they are dealing with the best in the industry.” The HVAC Expertise logo has been a key component in the fight to increase hours for the union workforce. “I see that logo separating us from all the shops that come and go every day,” says Mike Lawson, president of J.H. Simpson Company, Inc., in Stockton, Calif. Sal Rotolo, business representative for SMART Local 104, District 2, agrees. “The HVAC Expertise logo has provided us the a common theme to market our contractors under one banner in the residential and light commercial market. We have successfully used the HVAC Expertise logo on our website, literature/mailings and in social media.” SMART Local 22 in New Jersey also uses the logo, dedicating a large block on their home page at smwialu22. org to describing the value of HVAC Expertise. The partnership between the Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Evansville (Indiana) and SMART Local 20 has a website at that not only contains links to the Expertise web sites, but also a section that describes in detail the HVAC, Architectural, and Industrial segments of the sheet metal industry. Now is a good time for you to put the Expertise program to work on behalf of your organization. Complete the licensing form and then start using the logos for helmet stickers, business cards, letterhead, promotional materials, web sites, advertising, brochures, and local trade shows. Share your experience with us on the SheetMetalPartners Facebook page. 

“The real world cannot put value on a sheet metal contractor. They know plumbing; they know electrical… If you want to sell and you want to be noticed in the marketplace, people want to know what your product is,” says Mark Watson, president of Climate Engineers, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We determined that the product they’re looking for is HVAC.” If the information gained in the focus groups is accurate, why aren’t all SMACNA sheet metal contractors, SMART locals, SMACNA chapters, joint training centers, and labor-management partnerships using the Expertise logos? “The problem we face is that most organizations have their own logos, and a lot of them don’t want to lose that recognition or add too many other logos,” speculates Matthew Smith, president of Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., based in Stockton, Calif.



However, according to Jim Conway, chapter manager for Central Valley SMACNA, Expertise logos can actually strengthen a brand. “The logo can be a focal point for marketing. It’s something to build upon—a form of identification for our trade, our industry.” Furthermore, using the logos makes available FREE marketing tools, including professional advertisements and access to Expertise web sites that link to signatory contractors and resources that explain the value of using Expertise contractors. For Watson, the logos and what they represent are a nobrainer. “I’m not a real smart guy, but when I attend a couple of focus groups and they say, ‘What are you talking about? Sheet metal— what is that?’, we need to be rethinking who we are.” Visit to find out more and obtain the application to use the Expertise logos. It is FREE to use but restricted only to SMACNA- and SMART-related organizations. Sign-up for a Member logIn for access to the tools.




Residential Rebates Expand Work Opportunities Chicago and St. Louis contractors and locals get “SMART” in the residential market.

Prior to the 2008 recession, Chicago-area sheet metal workers—like many others across the country—were experiencing a boom to the tune of 4.5 million man-hours worked. By 2008, local 265 and SMACNA Greater Chicago saw a 2 million-

hour drop. And by 2011, the local had lost 20% of its members, 20% of the general fund, and several contractors. Residential construction was 40% of the business in the area, and along with the housing market, new construction crashed. To survive, contractors opened service departments and began providing maintenance and installations of air conditioners and furnaces, said Tony Adolfs, executive vice president of SMACNA Greater Chicago. A rebate program helped give customers a deal while giving contractors much-needed work. “The rebate program helped get them through that crisis,” Adolfs says. “It answered the question for 8


customers, ‘What’s in it for me?’ The rebate is a tangible thing that can be advertised. Labor and management worked together to keep it strong.” Members of local 265 voted to contribute 60 cents per hour to fund the rebate program and the marketing to get the word out to customers. In early 2017, the Chicago-area rebate program gave customers $200 for every unit (up to four per household) and a $50 rebate for clean-andchecks, also known as annual maintenance checks. Since 2008, customers have received $4.5 million in rebates, which created 200,000 hours of work. A full-time sheet metal craftsperson will work 2,000 hours in a calendar year. Rebates and man-hours are directly linked in St. Louis, as well. Between 2008 and 2011, Chicago wasn’t the only area realizing changes needed to be made in order to keep doors open and workers employed. “The rebate program is something that helps stabilize the industry and give us growth potential to reach new customers,” says Ed Hoganson, marketing director for local 36 in St. Louis. “I think the longevity of the rebate program was the glue that held everything together. There is an unmeasurable exponent to this: no one makes money from cleanand-checks. It’s the potential of follow-on work that is what you’re going for. We’re just lucky we have 25 residential contractors that have been at it a long time.” The St. Louis-area rebate program currently offers customers $25 for signing an annual maintenance agreement. During 11 months of 2016, 17,000 service customers received $342,000 in rebates. With 25 residential contractors, union service work counts for 8% of the market share. Unlike other areas, St. Louis’ new homebuilders are 90% union. Contractors perform new installation and have instant potential to gain future

Evolution of a Warranty Program


ost case study stories in industry magazines read as if everything “came together” naturally, smoothly, quickly. Everyone knew everything from Day One, there was no disagreement, and the angels began singing almost immediately. What follows IS a success story that is still in progress. But there have been plenty of bumps along the way. In Chicago, members of the local labor-management cooperation committee frequently discussed what most thought was a good idea. The concept seemed simple: Create a warranty for metal roofs and walls, something that would make residential and commercial customers extremely comfortable hiring one of our contractors. “Customers are often worried that the contractors they hire will go bankrupt and a warranty will be useless. However, since union sheet metal contractors have the ability to rely on each other, they can provide reassurance that a union contractor will stand behind any installation,” says Ken Wiesbrook, president of SMACNA Greater Chicago and vice president for Wiesbrook Sheet Metal in Plainfield, Ill.

Beyond the customer security factor, this type of warranty is something that non-union competition cannot touch. Clearly, this was an idea whose time had come! Taking the matter in hand Unfortunately, progress was slow. “There always seems to be some stumbling block,” Wiesbrook says. Although the LMCC met quarterly, members of SMART Local 265 and SMACNA Greater Chicago made little progress on this idea over time. “Everyone seemed to like the idea; they talked about it at almost every meeting…and there it sat,” Weisbrook says. “At some point, the Ken and I decided we had to move faster,” remembers SMART Local 265 Business Manager Chuck Ruegge. He and Wiesbrook got themselves appointed as a “task force” and sat down together to work things out. Afterwords, LMCC members reviewed and approved the rebate plan. A program is born The program is fairly simple, essentially: • • •

The contractor does the job. If there’s a problem within the five-year period, the contractor returns and fixes it. If the installing contractor is no longer in business, another signatory sheet metal contractor will do the job at no charge to the customer. Whether the contractor remains in business or not, an inspection is offered to the customer (again, at no charge) at the end of the five-year warranty period—to ensure the work will retain integrity over time.

Contact SMART Local 265 or SMACNA Chicago for additional information about setting up a similar warranty.  November 2017 PARTNERS IN PROGRESS



warranty and service customers. “It keeps service techs busy year-round. We don’t have the layoffs we might have without the rebate program,” Hoganson says. “Some contractors have 7,000 cleanand-checks a year, which generate a lot of hours.” Marketing the rebate programs has been key to both cities’ success. Chicago created a web site called Union organizations both in and outside Chicago have come on-board to participate in the effort. Other groups with existing rebate programs—including SMACNA Arizona, SMACNA Western Washington, and SMART Local 73 in Chicago—also signed up. “We have developed quite a program and a plan for implementation across North America,” says John Daniel, financial secretary-treasurer and business representative for SMART Local 265. “The campaign is a fully developed turnkey operation with a blend of branding and call-toaction techniques that can be easily implemented in any region. The brand is location neutral, which gives us the unique opportunity to leverage the size of our organizations.” St. Louis uses and targets social media, radio, TV, and advertising at St. Louis Blues hockey and St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. Informing the public about the rebate program—and leaving the union conversation out—has made getting work easier, Daniel added. “It’s not selling the union. It’s selling value, quality and trust.” The future doesn’t depend on rebate programs like those in Chicago and St. Louis, but they are making a difference. “When something breaks, customers call the contractor that’s been servicing their unit, and that contractor—and associated union workforce—gets that installation,” says Noah Goldkamp, SMACNA St. Louis executive vice president. “It’s a strategy that is critical to our success.” 


uilding a Workforce

Lincoln High School’s Engineering and Construction Academy in California provides a high school education leading to jobs in the skilled trades. By Joe Salimando

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of ‘higher education’ to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled ‘alternative.’

“Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as ‘vocational consolation prizes,’ best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of ‘shovel ready’ jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.”


Teacher drives the program The school-within-a-school is the vision of Jeff Wright, a teacher since 1976 (he began teaching English, math, and history at the middle-school level) who has pushed the Academy idea for almost 20 years. Born and raised in Stockton, this educator came with some interesting additional skills: Wright’s personal background was in construction; he earned his general contractor’s license in 1980. So when Lincoln Middle School needed someone to head up its woodshop and drafting programs, Wright got the call. Later, he started teaching AutoCAD and an architecture class at the high-school level. 10



elevision host Mike Rowe spoke those words a few years ago. The question remains: Is anyone doing anything about about it? In Northern California, the answer is a loud YES! In fact, the first graduates of the Lincoln High Engineering and Construction Academy (Stockton) emerged from its halls in the spring of 2012 and more than 500 students have followed in the past seven years. To the industry’s credit, SMACNA contractors and SMART local unions are integrally involved.

How The Academy Fits Into The Industry’s Growth Plans

Over time, Wright watched as the school’s shop teacher corps declined from seven to two. “We were dead in the water,” Wright recalls, “so I had it in the back of my mind that I had to do something.” What problem was Wright trying to solve? This might be familiar in your area, but it bears repeating: the education provided to middle- and high-schoolage students was all about going on to college. These students were being systematically denied access to educational opportunities in the engineering and construction trades—depriving Northern California (and, of course, the rest of the nation) of skilled people needed to power our nation’s growth. According to Wright, his original plan called for a charter school, which would not have to adhere to California’s education code and could pursue an alternative curriculum. Wright actually wrote a plan for a charter school, and submitted it. However, he ended up scrapping that plan. Fate lends a hand Then in 2001, Wright received the state of California’s Teacher of the Year award. Suddenly, doors opened for him. He was able to preach his “skills gap” gospel—and proposed solution—to audiences that might listen and embrace the thinking. Included in the speaking engagements was a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Matthew Smith, owner of Smith Heating and Air Conditioning in Stockton, Calif., was in the audience. “Here was this guy talking about the fact that the school district’s focus on college and the systematic elimination of shop programs was a mistake. I met with him afterwards, told him that I agreed with his position, and that a school like that he was proposing was the key for our future work force.” With encouragement from Smith and others, Wright began applying for grants to build the Academy. One $3 million grant required a match, which was managed by more than 50 trade unions, contractors, and construction companies, plus the Lincoln school district. Ground-breaking took place in October 2008; the official opening—aided by partnership arrangements with local building trades, including SMART and SMACNA—took place in 2010. Mechanical pre-apprenticeship Students enrolled in the Academy can choose from three construction/engineering career paths. The one most relevant to SMACNA-SMART is a mechanical continued on page 12

Consult a document on Long-Term Planning for Market Expansion in Central California—which deals with many plans, goals, and actions—and you’ll find this segment: One specific program was to work with other construction trades and the Stockton-area schools to establish (the Academy)...a school within a school. It offers rigorous academic course work, relevant hands-on training, and career paths that are directly related to the construction trades. Students are now graduating from the Academy and going into the trades. Because of their experience and exposure to the trades, they are better prepared to enter and complete apprenticeship programs with basic, common-sense mechanical skills. The school sends reports to, and asks for input from, representatives of the construction trades. One obvious conclusion: This isn’t a sheet-metal-industry project. Rather, it involves wide participation by various construction trades. Yet contractors and sheet metal workers are fully involved. Matthew Smith, president of Smith Heating and Air Conditioning in Stockton, Calif., provides some detail. “There’s a respect between trades through the industry. I think we all see the benefits. “Our involvement in the program is not just about handing them a check. One thing we do is schedule field trips, when students come out to our shops to learn about the companies and everything that’s involved with working in the industry. “We also show them our accounting functions, our engineering functions, as well as the sheet metal departments, so they understand that there are career opportunities.” Such tours are designed to show Academy students that the work is not just about hanging duct work. “Getting involved in the trades is also about engineering, project management, accounting and clerical work; a lot of different kinds of processes with which these students could become involved— and go on to have great careers,” Smith says. Beyond the potential availability of Academy graduates as apprentices, the Stockton-area trades have elevated their profile in the community itself. “Obviously, our initial involvement in promoting the program was to raise awareness and hopefully promote individuals who were interested in getting into the trade,” Smith says. “But what we’ve seen is that is has brought a recognition of SMACNA and the sheet metal workers as being involved in the community and it has made a huge difference as far as work opportunities.” November 2017 PARTNERS IN PROGRESS



continued from page 11 construction pre-apprenticeship that provides learning opportunities for students interested in careers in mechanical construction, including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. Courses taught in each career path were developed and evaluated by industry professionals, including an 85-member Advisory Board. “Every trade that we deal with is on that board. We took all of their advice developing the curriculum,” Wright says. Union representatives have always interfaced with high school programs to make students aware of opportunities in the building trades. They visit; they talk; they answer questions. According to Dennis Canevari, assistant business manager for SMART Local 104, District 2, the difference at the Academy is the degree of interest in a given audience. “In regular

high schools, you might get 10% that are interested,” he said. “When you go (to the Academy) and talk, 90% of the audience is interested. It’s a great thing for the industry, a great shopping place for candidates.” For Wright, the Academy isn’t about pushing a future in a trade at a student—no, not in the way that the focus on high-tech industries pushes college in standard high schools. He’s designed the Academy to be about unlocking the potential in each student to make a career choice that will enrich them. “They love working with their hands,” he claims, “but a lot of them just don’t know how. I’ve never seen kids who couldn’t be engaged in working with their hands, once someone shows them how to do it.” Indeed, students have been busy working with their hands. One project allowed students to aid in fundraising for the Academy by building sheds to sell in the community. Another project has been a 700-square-foot construction simulator with six bathrooms that will allow current—and future— students to install ductwork, water pipes, electrical fixtures, and more, then tear it out and install it again. Students also created REACH (Rehabilitative Environment Aimed at Challenging Homelessness) Facilities and the Habitable Urban Tent (HUT), an inexpensive housing solution for use in developing countries, cities, and areas hit by disasters. HUTs are 64-square-foot equilateral triangles with a special jointing system that makes them easy to assemble without special tools or labor. They are insulated, water-resistant, impactresistant, and contain a simple heating and cooling system, bed, and LED lighting. The project won Best in Class at the California State Fair. “These students have been inspired by their work at the Academy and are trying to solve a problem and give back,” Smith says. “I’ve talked to many students who say algebra and geometry make more sense because they can see how to use them,” Smith says. “You can see the students’ eyes light up. Many of those students have come back to me saying, ‘I like math again. I understand it.’” He attributes the Academy’s success to Wright’s vision in the beginning, motivation to work through all the hurdles, and passion for teaching. “He’s created the most incredible curriculum of anyone I’ve ever seen. Some of our graduates immediately have job offers with benefits,” Smith says.  Salimando is a Northern Virginia-based writer.




National LMCF Supports Local Partnership Programs Funding is available to help local parties work together in creating solutions to address market share and job security.

SMACNA and SMART are building a future together. Labor and management partnerships can be powerful tools. When they work, nothing is better. It is possible to soar to new heights seeking after and performing work that is challenging and mutually rewarding. However, not every labormanagement partnership soars. Admittedly, our national organizations can only do so much to improve or repair local working relationships. The real work must be done at home. That is why the Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force has set aside funds to assist local labor-management programs to strengthen and grow market share. Primary goals and objectives The primary goal of this program is to develop a long-term blueprint that is customized to address the needs and concerns of the individual local market. Efforts should be focused on jointly identifying problems and creating solutions to better serve customers, gain market share, and increase job security for SMACNA contractors and SMART members. Local parties are provided with the tools, as well as a complete understanding of the environment necessary to regain market share where it has been lost, to grow and expand in areas where it is stagnant, and to avoid the mistakes that result in a decreasing market share. How the expenses are divided The National Labor-Management Cooperation Fund covers the cost of the expenses of the program moderator. Programs are 1-1/2 days in

length. Local parties are responsible for splitting the remaining expenses associated with the meeting, including the costs for meeting venue, publicity, audio visual equipment, and food. Parties that receive funding may subsequently request additional funding for follow-up meetings. How to apply To get started, compose a jointly-signed letter from the chapter and the local union requesting funding for the program. Submit it to Sheet Metal Labor Management Cooperation Fund, 4201 Lafayette Center Dr., Chantilly, Va. 20151 or email it to If you have any questions or need additional information on the opportunity, contact Jason Watson, SMACNA Director of Labor Relations, at 703-803-2981 or Marc Norberg, SMART Assistant to the General President, at 202662-0855 or  November 2017 PARTNERS IN PROGRESS


Architectural Metal

Trying to get your company




Expertise is more than experience. It is skilled knowledge. Let your customers know there is a reason to hire you. Use Expertise logos on all of your promotional materials. Get the details at I-01